Solomon Yacht Restoration, L.L.C., (Member)
Lewmar Exhaust Tube for Bow Thruster Tube Issue in Tartan 3700
As of 2009 www.btona.com (Bow Thrusters of North America) was formed to accommodate those requiring bow/stern thruster installations with guaranteed workmanship.
Before reading, please keep in mind this was published mid to late summer of 07. Also keep in mind this refers to Lewmar tubes. Boat manufacture can be any make, but do have issue with one manufacturer questioning OEM use specifications.

     I am a yacht restorer and repair facility located in Annapolis Maryland. During late summer of 07, I encountered a problem with exhaust tube in place for bow thruster tube when contracted for replacement in a Tartan 3700 located at Carr’s Creek Marina in Annapolis, Maryland. A moral dilemma of a certain company wishing to replace factory installed exhaust tube … with same, passing for bow thruster tube. I am compelled to share this with others as a point made over the years by many boaters expressing unfair practice in the marine market place today. My point, exhaust tube is an incorrect application for bow thruster tube and should be looked at closely!

     For those not in the know, exhaust tube is of a circular wound glass fiber not able to handle torque bow thruster motors deliver. Aside from not coated with gel-coat on inside of tube, (waterside of tube) exhaust tube is of smaller size and a lesser grade construction not designed for bow thruster tube application. Note the, "Limited Warranty and Key Terms of Supply by Lewmar", a. use of a product in an application for which it was not designed or intended.

     True bow thruster tube shall be of a +/- 45° GRP lay-up schedule providing sheer, tensile, and axial strength with gel-coat on ID (Inside Diameter) of tube akin to what one would find in a Vetus bow thruster tube. This gel-coating such as on bottom of a boat hull, protects raw faced resin-glass from water intrusion, etc. Again, not found on exhaust tube. Mainly, my argument lies with the tube being used in this Tartan, installed from factory, and not of being of suitable for use. Also, the customer waiting for months while two different company’s argued to see who was going to pay for replacement as the boat sat on the hard for this entire time. To date, 4/27/08, I have received many contacts from those of you asking, which is the correct tube to be using. If you have a tube constructed akin to that of the Vetus tube lay-up schedule, you should be safe from the alternative.

     I have refused to install replacement tube after a day’s work removing cracked Lewmar exhaust tube from this Tartan 3700. When notifying persons contracting me for tube install, explaining exhaust tube was delivered rather than thruster tube, I was directed to a customer service representative for more information. After explaining my suggestion of ill suited equipment sent for this application, I asked manufacture to send a disclaimer for install reliving me from any and all liability for this incorrect install. Knowing I would not install replacement tube, to my surprise the following morning a disclaimer was E-mailed to me. My goal and attempts driven by my curiosity to see if ethics would prevail in a potential dangerous situation as I have here. Unfortunately this was not to be, read further.

This is the actual text delivered to me by E-mail 8/16/07, 9:04AM:
Tommy,
FYI, I have attached a copy of our warranty statement to this email.
Lewmar takes complete responsibility in regards to the quality of the thruster tube, in and of itself, that we have asked you to install.
If the tube breaks again and it is proven to be an issue with the quality of the tube you are not liable for any damages regarding the tube itself.
That being said, Lewmar is not to be held responsible for installation or problems caused by the structural integrity of the boat.
Please let me know if you have any questions,

Joshua McAnany
Customer Service Specialist
Lewmar Marine, Inc.
Phone: (800)362-7212 x202
FAX: (203)453-5669
Email: jmcanany@lewmarusa.com
Web: www.lewmar.com
     I am hopeful Lewmar and Tartan has a change in heart and will step up and do the right thing and not just for monetary reasons! However, if you can pick apart disclaimer above, I really have no protection at all in Lewmar’s provision. Setting aside all this, what’s it say when a company attempts to relive a contactor for liability for installing equipment not designed for the job?

     Please allow me to continue. If you have ever picked up a thruster motor, you would notice it is of substantial weight and awkwardness. Torque this motor provides coupled with added water drag increases (torque) on bolt fastening points on tube. Look closely at breaking points on tube in my pictures: all at the through-bolt hole areas! Now look at how it has failed. Almost in a circular motion, the same direction of its glass wrap.

     Pictures of exhaust tube will also show a repair done one time prior. Note darker cracked areas, this shows several cracks in this tube existed for some time. Note the home-grade silicone repair. Silicone has no business in this application for a repair. Besides, silicones has no adhesive qualities and rarely use this stuff if ever at all. Also, pay close attention to the first three words on tubes sticker sent by Lewmar, "Marine Muffler Corporation…". The word muffler indicates this is a muffler tube, not a bow thruster tube! Some have argued the sticker only indicates this tube is made by a particular company which makes many other kind of tubes. I respectful disagree as it plain for me to see this tube was not of proper construction for the application for which it was used.

     If you would like to know a quick way of seeing if you have exhaust tube, verses bow thruster tube, note the "wrap" or "wounding" of glass-fibers (strands) on an exposed part of tube from inside the boat. If you can see a +/- 45° wrap in GRP fibers, most times a red line indicator going in one direction or the other, more than likely you have a thruster tube. If on the other hand you can see something akin to a circular wrap/wound in glass and somewhat thin in nature, you may not have thruster tube. If you know what matt glass looks like, see how close it resembles your tube and you may have found answers.

     With so many in the marine industry today trying to make money from work not performed, customers not getting what they have purchased, and over all unethical standards with the few, I want boaters to realize even the big company’s will subscribe to unethical practices and anything to save a buck. The cost difference between exhaust tube and bow thruster tube is not enough to jeopardize the safety of any boater and its passengers! For the price of a Vetus tube, say around 4 foot, you can get 10 foot of exhaust tube. I don’t think this small savings is worth the potential problems one may encounter if a dock or lift is not close by.

     Two people, one in San Diego, California, and one in Europe, had failures, which could have caused loss of life. Thanks to the travel lift operator in San Diego on his day off and just happen to be standing close by, saved this boat from sinking in the channel. The people in Europe experienced failure at sea as water shot up from under the mattress in the V birth. I would beg of anyone with more connections than I to assist me in getting something done soon. One day the unspeakable will happen causing a terrible situation. Its just a matter of time!

     I am sure I will get some heat from this and welcome every bit of it! Nevertheless, I will not keep quiet about something so blatant as this and beg for someone to challenge me on this!

     My goal is to see the customer use the boat safely with no added concerns of equipment failure.

Click here to see pictures of the issue

Regards, and be well,
Tommy

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